Ukraine military chopper shot down, 14 killed

2014-05-29 14:04
Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine. (File, AP)

Black smoke rises from a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine. (File, AP)

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Slovyansk - Rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a government military helicopter on Thursday killing 14 soldiers, including a general.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said rebels used a portable air defense missile to down the helicopter over the city of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine.

He told parliament that General Volodymyr Kulchitsky was among those who died.

Slovyansk has become the epicentre of fighting between pro-Russia insurgents and government forces in recent weeks.

Located 160km from the Russian border, it has seen constant clashes and its residential areas have regularly come under mortar shelling from government forces, causing civilian casualties and prompting some residents to flee.

An Associated Press reporter saw the helicopter's downing and the trail of black smoke it left before crashing. It wasn't immediately clear what weapons the rebels used to shoot it down, exactly where the helicopter fell or what happened to its crew.

Gunshots were heard around Slovyansk near the crash site and a Ukrainian air force jet was seen circling above. It was too dangerous to visit the site itself.

The city of 120 000 is in the Donetsk region, one of the two sprawling provinces in eastern Ukraine that have declared independence from the government in Kiev.

The Kiev government condemns the insurgency roiling the east as the work of "terrorists" bent on destroying the country and blames Russia for fomenting it. Russia denies the accusations, saying it has no influence over rebels, who insist they are only protecting the interests of Russian-speakers in the east.

Still, fighters from Russia, including from the battled-hardened region of Chechnya, have been appearing recently in the ranks of the separatists.
- AP
Read more on:    osce  |  ukraine
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